10 October 2013

Least Surprising News of the Day

Obama's war on whistle-blowers and the press has been examined by former WaPo editor-in-chief Leonard Downie, Jr., and is described in his report as, "The most aggressive since Nixon."
The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.
The former counsel for the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case is far less circumspect about this:
Since 2009, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people as whistleblowers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all former presidents combined, a fact often rehashed in journalistic circles. In some of those cases, officials seized journalists’ phone and email records to use in their investigation. James Goodale, who was The New York Times’ chief counsel during Pentagon Papers coverage, has told CJR that Obama’s aggressive crackdown on whistleblowers is “antediluvian, conservative, backwards. Worse than Nixon. He thinks that anyone who leaks is a spy! I mean, it’s cuckoo.”
There is a pathology in the White House about leaks, and considering the vehemence, it has to come from the top, and it has to be deeply felt.

Ironically, this attitude is probably causing more harm than good for the Obama administration, though I would argue that the damage to the idea freedom of the press as a counterweight to government excess is far greater.

This is why I call Barack Obama the worst constitutional law professor ever.


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